1. Kevin who?
Manning showed the past year’s champions some love, including the Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago Cubs, but when he threw a shout-out to the USA women’s gymnastics team for a dominating performance at the Olympics, he included a jab at a certain NBA star who suits up for the Golden State Warriors.
“Kevin Durant told me he wants to play for them next year,” Manning quipped. “And I’ve got to tell you, I don’t think you’d start for that team Kevin.”
Cue laughter from the crowd, even Durant’s mom seated next to him, and the blank response from Durant.
“Russell Westbrook, what do you think?” Manning continued.
Westbrook seconded Durant’s blank stare as the crowd reacted to Manning’s further twist of the knife. Jury’s still out on whether or not they were in on it.
2. Falcons and three quarters
Manning couldn’t hide his disappointment in the loss suffered by the Atlanta Falcons at the hands of the New England Patriots, neither in his monologue nor in a skit later in the show. It came from a place of love, kind of.
The skit featured Manning singing along with Lady Gaga at a fictional Super Bowl party, where the quarterback directed barbs at the Pats, who bumbled through the games first three quarters. But once Manning sensed his old rivals are mounting a comeback and realized the tide had turned, he looked for ways to distract the guests at his party.
You’d be hard pressed to find someone who followed Manning’s career who didn’t know his famous obsession with preparation. To close out his monologue, the former signal-caller made time to call a few more while he poked fun at himself, mentioned watching a past monologue nine times and looked for praise for his MVPs and Super Bowl wins.
“Hold for applause.”
Yes, you remember correctly. Four of his five MVPs and one of his two NFL championships came with the Indianapolis Colts.
A couple star-wipes and some pyrotechnics later, the awards started rolling in.
4. Papa Manning
The illustrious history of Manning’s television appearances through sponsors like Nationwide, Gatorade and Papa John’s found its way into his monologue Wednesday night. The pro athlete and spokesman turned just, well, spokesman, thanked Gatorade Fierce for helping him not sweat his “haters” and then threw a well-known pizza chain some love.
“Gatorade Fierce, it’s the Papa John’s of sports drinks.”
5. Sunset Acres Village
Manning gave a glimpse into his post-football life in this ESPY skit. Indy’s beloved quarterback was shown getting into the groove of retirement life at the esteemed Sunset Acre Village. Life after football appears to be more relaxing than lining up opposite an NFL defense, but only slightly. Manning can’t help but take shuffleboard as seriously as another matchup with the Patriots.
“I know I’m just a rookie here,” Manning says, “but I actually feel I have plenty to teach these veterans.”
Manning brings that same competitive edge to group swimming exercises, poker, and coupon clipping, and after another run-in with an elderly woman who appears to be Tom Brady’s “Gam-Gam,” Manning and his fellas ride off down the hallway in motorized scooters.
“Earn those naps.”